The man at reception was cheerful if a little hesitant, followed everywhere by three wide-eyed, silent little blonde girls who kept getting under his feet like over-faithful spaniels.
Truth be told, the motel was rather run-down, and almost completely empty, save for a couple of the cabins out at the back where a family and an elderly couple kept themselves to themselves.
In the motel building, the doors to the rooms all stood open, displaying bare mattresses and stripped pillows, and in a wide field behind, ranks of power and water hook-ups peeked out of the tall grass where a caravan park ought to have been.
At the front, a reasonably large restaurant stood eerily empty. The tables still set with candles, a pile of dusty menus on the buffet table, a stack of plastic Ringnes-branded pint cups and a beer price list on the black counter that used to be a bar. Notices on the doors warned people to order their breakfasts before 9pm. It had that post-apocalyptic feel like everyone had left in a hurry and never returned.
‘At the moment I’m the only staff here,’ explained the man, when I observed innocently that it was rather quiet. ‘There are not many guests because the previous owner wrote on the website that it was closed. We’ve only been open a few weeks. A company bought it and employed me, but I’m only one person, so I can’t serve food or anything.’ The little girls looked at us gravely.
‘It’s the first time in this kind of business for me too,’ he added, almost apologetically, before informing us that he was off home but that there was a Polish man living in one of the other rooms who could help us with anything we needed when he came home from work.
Still, the showers were hot and much needed after five nights in the woods. Once we’d washed ourselves and our clothes, we sat out on plastic chairs in our swimming shorts, drinking mugs of sweet tea and looking across the abandoned caravan park towards a sagging volleyball net at the far end.
It had the feel of a place that must have been a lot of fun once. I rather hope our fellow and his mysterious backers can restore this little riverside holiday park to its former glory.